Possible Fee Hike In Engineering Colleges In India

According to a Times of India post today (7 Feb 2010), there might be a possible fee hike for all Engineering College students in India. The representatives of private Engineering Colleges have collectively appealed to the AICTE (All India council for Technical Education), which regulates technical higher education in India, about two issues:

a) Uniform fee for students in all states to Rs 80,000 / year

The college management reasons that there is a huge disparity between fees charged in various states for example Colleges in AP charge Rs 30,200 per annum while in certain states colleges charge Rs 80,000 per annum. Because the fee is so low in AP, colleges are unable to afford quality faculty members.

b) Abolish M.Tech as basic qualification requirement for appointment as Assistant Professor.

The colleges feel that they are under immense pressure to provide quality education but due to lack of enough faculty member who have post graduate education, they are forced to fight for the same small pool of faculty. Since most of the private companies pay much higher salaries and perks compared to education institutions, it is very hard to retain talent without higher salaries, which they can ill afford without higher fees.

My Opinion

To a large extent, I personally agree with the education institutions that they need to charge higher fee to retain better faculty talent. Without quality faculty, better pedagogy techniques and quality infrastructure, India is just producing duds that are an absolute disgrace on Engineering standards. This can be partly learnt from western countries where universities are largely free market economies which means that students are ready to pay higher premiums for better quality education. Unfortunately this has negative consequences like increase in education costs which many parents cannot afford and hence low percentages of enrollments.

But in order to solve this issue, the government should promote many public universities that are referenced as benchmark in terms of quality. But there have to enough number of Public Universities to cater to a wide population. Private Universities can then compete with the public ones in quality, while their tuition fees can be at check relative to the public ones. The private Universities could be mandated to divert back at least a significant portion of revenues back into developing the infrastructure, facilities and hiring better faculty. This has to be closely audited and regulated since Indian colleges are master of disguise when it comes to accounting principles.

This also solves the other issue of being unable to hire M.Tech graduates as Assistant Professor. Higher pay scales attract better talented faculty who have incentive to pursue M.Tech and Ph.D when compensated as well as in other industries.

In summary, he government has to pump in significant percentage of GDP towards setting up higher education institutions against which private ones can compete in quality and costs.